For a few years, I've made mental note of rides I would do if I acquired a gravel bike. Riding up the back side of Mount Lemmon, up Mount Hopkins, around Mount Lemmon via Redington Road so today, I.....
…..drove north through Oracle, down Webb Road to San Manuel and parked along the pavement. The Galiuro Mountains in the distance with the tree lined San Pedro River just above where the road disappears in the above image.
Surprisingly in this kind of remote area, the pavement is excellent until I reach the end of it at mile 6 of my ride. I see a coyote trot across the road just before I take the image. I'm not headed to Benson but instead I take San Pedro River Road until.....
….it goes to the southeast while I pick up Redington Road. The condition of the road is hard packed dirt with quite a few pot holes and wash boarding. It could use a good scraping but doubt a road grader gets out here very often.
The saguaros are plentiful on the hill sides. I'm disappointed that the foot hills hide Mount Lemmon for much of the ride. Today I don't plan to go around the mountain, just a scouting mission as I build my cycling fitness. Today marks my 3rd consecutive day of riding either the gravel or road bike.
As the road rises toward Redington Pass, the conditions become much better and it is a relatively smooth ride. I've been passed by a couple of 4 wheelers and a truck or two but little traffic on this side of the mountain. From experience, I know on the other side, there is a lot of traffic.
The Rincons rise above the horizon with some snow still present. I stop to chat with the only other cyclist I see during my ride. Damn! He is going up and around the mountain on a 125 mile epic. I asked to take his picture for my blog but he declined, stating he doesn't do the internet thing.
Odd how there are frequent signs stating I am on a dirt road. There is no mistaking it for a paved one. I was sorely tempted to drop down the other side of the mountain, into Tucson and then ride clockwise to Oro Valley but then I'd have to Uber it to my car in San Manuel. Completing the circle would be a 104 mile classic and I may do that eventually but at least I know the ride around about half the mountain can be done and will do that soon. So.....
….I turn around and return to my car, finishing with 40 miles and 1700' of climbing. My average speed was 12.7mph. One thing I like about gravel riding is you can't interpret the average speed because the conditions are so varied. Lacking skill, I still had to push the bike a couple of times today over rocky sections that an experienced gravel rider would have flown through. Pushing really skews the average speed. Back to a day of hiking next.